Rob Fielding reflects on a busy period of transfer activity both in and out of the club and ponders – will Vale’s player changes pay off?
Rob Fielding writes…
I hope the arrival of the more experienced and more high profile Hughes doesn’t affect Pope’s form…
The arrival of Lee Hughes on Tuesday morning takes the number of signings to be made by club’s new owners to seven. In January alone, we’ve seen three players leave and three come in. But will these changes help or hinder Vale’s promotion push?
These latest developments are certainly a statement of intent although the signing of Lee Hughes will no doubt divide the Vale fans.
My worry with the signing of Hughes is not his past misdemeanours (which Hughes has publically apologised for) but rather that Tom Pope appears to be thriving on the additional responsibility (since the departure of Marc Richards) of being the “top forward” at the club. I hope the arrival of the more experienced and more high profile Hughes in the dressing room doesn’t affect Pope’s form.
Tellingly, the new arrivals – Hughes, Darren Purse, Liam Chilvers, Chris Birchall, Calvin Andrew and (the now departed) Sean McAllister all boast substantial experience.
Personally, I would prefer a mixture of youth and experience and I sincerely hope that rather than hindering the youngsters’ chances of first-team action, the older heads will help to further develop the likes of Joe Davis, Ben Williamson and Ryan Lloyd into players capable of eventually replacing the old stagers in the side. Davis, Williamson and Co may be needed next season as I have my doubts over the ability of the older players – Hughes and Purse in particular – to make an impact in a higher division as they reach the end of their careers
So, for me, these latest moves are therefore designed purely to get the club up and in that sense, the final judgement on their impact will rest with whether the club get promotion or not. Some fans will argue that too many new arrivals could destabilise the squad but in truth, none of us will know until the end of the season. Only once Vale’s season is over, can fans decide whether these purchases were good or bad buys.
Meanwhile, players on the fringes of the squad – Gareth Owen, Darren Murphy and the aforementioned McAllister have departed to clear the decks for the new boys. I can understand the reasoning for their departures. I think Owen, in particular, should leave with his head held high and with the grateful thanks of Valiants fans for some sterling defensive performances in the early part of his Vale career.
I wish all three of them well for the future.